Two people have been captured on CCTV before a suspicious blaze at the home once owned by late Melbourne underworld figure Des “Tuppence” Moran.
Mattresses were also found piled up and set alight in the stairwell of the vacant two-storey brick home in Ascot Vale on Wednesday night, Metropolitan Fire Brigade western district Commander Guy McCrorie said.
“I haven’t seen the footage but people who have seen it said there were two people out the front of the premises just before the fire,” he told AAP.
The fire started on the mattresses in the stairwell and police will try to determine whether accelerant was used, Mr McCrorie said.
The house will have to be demolished, with the whole property destroyed bar the kitchen.
“It’s been unoccupied for a considerable amount of time,” he told AAP.
“Neighbours have said they have seen an occupant bringing out the rubbish bins every week.
“But there was no evidence of anyone living there we could see.”
Victoria Police’s arson squad will take over the investigation and forensic chemists will visit the home on Thursday morning.
Moran was shot dead in a cafe in 2009 in one of the notorious Underbelly gang wars.
His sister-in-law, Judy Moran, is in prison for the murder.
The home, which had been in the family for at least two generations, was sold at auction for about $1.1 million at the end of 2011.
A rumour of millions being stashed somewhere on the property had persisted for years.
The developer who bought it at the time was aiming to get approval to build a block of flats.
It sits across the road from Melbourne showgrounds and Flemington race course, and is covered by the suburb’s heritage overlay.
The first attempt on Des Moran’s life also happened in the driveway of the home in 2009.